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HomeNL-2011-07 Lake Anahuac

Lake Anahuac
June 25, 2011
by Natalie Wiest
Tired of those prevailing southerly breezes of summer pushing you upstream faster than you can paddle downstream?  Here’s a solution for you;  go with the flow and let the winds blow you in the direction you want to go.  Lake Anahuac combined with Turtle Bayou provide a wonderful opportunity, as Marilyn Kircus, Bob Scaldino, Dave Kitson, Ellen Shipman, Zootie Wiest and I confirmed on Sunday, June 25th.  Zootie is my new spaniel dog and she is showing herself to be very good at water sport.

There’s a very nice public boat launch on the southeastern corner of Lake Anahuac;  Ike did a number on the boat ramp for people with boats on trailers, but it works just fine for canoes and kayaks and there’s plenty of parking too.  To get there from Houston, head east on I-10 to the Hwy 61/Hankamer exit.  Go south on Hwy 61;  which includes a right-hand turn at the fourway stop sign.  When you get into the town of Anahuac you’ll be on Miller Road and about a block before it makes an enforced left hand turn, you’ll see south Main Street;  go right there, and then left at the next intersection with north Main Street;  you’ll see the “public boat ramp” sign right there.  Follow to the water.

We arrived at the ramp and were unloading by 9:30 in the morning.  It’s approximately 4 miles across Lake Anahuac to the area where Turtle Bayou comes into it;  and another 2 miles up Turtle Bayou to White’s Park (reachable also by Hwy 61, look for turn just beyond the church on your right).  We expected winds in the order of 10-13 mph by afternoon and were eager to get off the lake before they got too high.

We had quite a range of sailing equipment;  Bob and Marilyn were using standard umbrellas with, respectively, a sea kayak (Eddyline Merlin) and solo canoe.  Dave had the “whole enchilada”, a beautifully tricked out Hobie Mirage Adventure Island;  a single sit-on-top kayak with outriggers and a beautiful big sail.  I had my homemade poor-woman’s sail rig;  I took the plastic shelf of one of those multiple-shelf units sold at home improvement stores (had it already on hand); with two of its legs.  That gave me a solid base to keep the bottom of the rig from sliding around in the boat; and two hollow tubes (the legs) into which I inserted poles, that were in turn inserted into the side pockets of a nylon sheet I’d sewn some time ago to accommodate canoe paddles for the same purpose.  However, my usually-willing bow partner (Ellen) has proven herself unreliable and unwilling to hold canoe sails by hand and I knew I had to find another alternative.  This one worked quite well, if I do say so myself.  Marilyn’s umbrella sail worked pretty well for her, but Bob found that kayak paddles, short, turny kayaks, and umbrella is not a very good working combination.


My canoe sail in
place and pulling
across the lake
  Closeup view of the
poor woman’s sailing
rig for canoe

Dave in his
Hobie sailing rig; 
very fast and

Marilyn with her multi-
colored canoe sailing

Another part of our mission was to locate the end of the boardwalk from the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge’s new Visitor Center that we know dead-ended at the lake.  In about an hour and a half of sailing, we were there.  However, we’d at that point parted company with Dave who could hardly stay back with us relatively slow-pokes, and had sailed off to look for Bun’s Beach.  Bob and Marilyn and I stayed for a while, then set out again as the wind waves were definitely building on the lake.  For this last leg, we all took our “sails” down and had to ferry across the wind about another half mile to the entrance of Turtle Bayou whence we sat to eat our lunches.  Still no Dave, so we regretfully pulled out and headed into the bayou, when we heard his air horn as he rounded the point and joined us for the last two miles.

Ellen at the ANWR
observation area
  Dave, Bob and Marilyn
heading up the bayou 
  Dave disassembling
his sailing kayak 

We were enjoying our cold cantaloupe desert by 2 p.m., ran shuttle and departed while the Chambers County Sheriff’s department waited for a diver to run cables to a local yahoo who decided to test how slippery the boat ramp is there in White’s Park.  This is NOT an advised activity and we can confirm that indeed a full-sized pickup totally disappears beneath the water in that location.  It IS very deep.

I’d intended to scout out Bun’s Beach to make sure it was open AND open to the public, but we were so relieved to be back in the air conditioning in my car, I totally forgot.  Maybe you’d like to scout it out?  I’ll still prefer White’s Park, but it’s a nice alternative.  It was lots of fun – you ought to try it too.

A few more photos at:

The author, Natalie Wiest